Should Marketers Be Concerned About Mobile Ad Blocking?
Recently, Digiday reported that ad blocking had gone mobile. A company called Adblock Plus released its version of mobile ad blocking which has already been downloaded over 400 million times. Another company called Shine Technologies plans to partner with cellphone carriers to block mobile ads at a level that would bypass all smartphone users. This is their “in your face!” to companies like Google and Facebook who make it hard to play in the mobile ad space because they are so dominate.
These companies claim that mobile ads drain users’ batteries, use up data, decrease load times and come with privacy concerns (serving ads based off of your phone’s GPS location). Jason Kint, the CEO of Digital Content Next claims that mobile advertising is “intrusive in what is a more intimate and personal experience.” Companies like Apple are starting to back this idea.
What does this mean for you and your brand?
Ads on mobile networks can now be “blocked” at the carrier level. Phone carriers are now faced with the decision of how they will charge publishers, developers and ad tech companies to “unblock” their inventory. According to The Financial Times, Adblock Plus, is currently charging publishers up to “30% of the additional ad revenues” that they would have made if ads were unblocked. This means that there is a real possibility that the cost of running mobile ads will increase at the CPM/CPC levels. A few companies have already started to cough up funds in order to not have ads blocked on their sites. The Financial Times and AdAge have reported that Google, Amazon and Microsoft have already footed AdBlock Plus bills to prevent ad blocking.
Many companies are taking to the “freemium” model. This model offers an ad free version at a cost. Spofity, Pandora and Hulu currently utilize this method. It’s simple, if you don’t want to be interrupted with an ad, pay for the service. Other companies like Sourcepoint would allow publishers to offer a way for people to pay a site to turn ads on or off according to AdAge. This means there may be less mobile scale as more people are willing to pay for an ad free experience.
Mobile web ad blocking in the works. Wired is reporting that app developers will now be able to create ad blocking software for Safari on mobile browsers. This could be deferential to your ability to scale your mobile campaigns as Apple iPhone users make up about 40% of the U.S. market according to AdWeek.
So who are these people determined to get rid of ads all together on mobile devices?
Well, according to a study done by Adobe and PageFair, of 1,621 people in the U.S., 28% of them who use the internet to browse the web have ad blocking enabled. Of the responders to the survey, 41% were between the ages of 18-29. This means the younger generation who spends the majority of their time with their faces glued to their phone screen are not seeing your ads.
So how else can you reach them when it’s hard to get a phone out of their hands?
Now that we have heard the negative impacts of mobile ad blocking, let’s play devil’s advocate and look at the other side of the spectrum. It’s a pretty well-known fact that the internet survives because of ad sales; so if you take that away, will the internet disappear too? If ads go away, will we be charged to read our emails and look at, say, CNN.com? Are people actually going to pay for that? Stephen Upstone, the chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association in the UK and CEO of LoopMe claims that he is confident that mobile ad blockers will not have an impact on the industry. As he told Business Insider, “Advertising helps fund the apps and content that consumers love and many consumers enjoy advertising.” Hello, Amazon’s Click-to-Purchase function… Yeah, that can’t go away.
Mobile ad spend is projected to dominate digital advertising in the upcoming years, so it’s hard to believe that a few mobile ad blocking companies could prevent an industry from doing its job. Upstone also claims that “large publishers have both the power and right to maintain relationships with users and advertisers.” Meaning, ads on your phone are not going anywhere.
No one is really 100% sure what’s going to happen in the mobile space, but is anyone ever sure what’s going to happen in digital advertising? My opinion is that the percentage of people who block ads on mobile devices will mimic what we are currently seeing on desktop. Desktop ad blocking has been out for a long time and ads/brands continue to perform well in this space.
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All in all, keep the mobile marketing up. Tablets and phones are typically the first place people begin their research before making a purchase, so it’s important for your brand to be in this space.
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